Looking Back at 2010s Films: Buried (2010)

2 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, let’s go back to a time when we were surprised to see Ryan Reynolds give a good performance in a good movie: 2010.

In the 2000s, Reynolds was often compared to Chevy Chase, in that he came off as thinking he was funnier and more charming than he actually was. Sometimes, he would surprise us by actually being funny and charming in movies like “Definitely, Maybe” and “Adventureland” (and I haven’t see “The Proposal,” but I’m assuming he’s one of the reasons that film was a hit). Nowadays, mostly thanks to the “Deadpool” movies, he’s a superstar and everyone loves him.

But if there’s a film that stretches his acting range to Oscar-worthy levels, it’s 2010’s extremely tense thriller “Buried.”

Reynolds has to carry the entire movie all by himself. It begins with him awakening in a wooden box, with a lighter, a cellphone, and a few other resources given to him by those who put him there and buried the box underground. Buried alive, he uses the phone to call out for help and also learns that he’s being held for ransom by terrorists. We learn that he’s an American civilian working in Iraq and he and his unit were ambushed, thus leading to his situation. If he doesn’t come up with the ransom money for the terrorists, he will be left in the coffin to die. So, he desperately tries connecting with anyone who might, could, and more importantly, WOULD be able to help before it’s too late.

Did I mention there’s a snake that shows up in the box at one point? (Yikes…)

This is the movie–one guy is buried alive, trapped inside a coffin, trying to stay alive, hoping to be rescued, calling for help. We never leave the box. We never see who’s on the other end of the phone calls. The only backstory/exposition we get is what the main character reveals over the phone. I love that director Rodrigo Cortes was able to use his absolute minimalist resources to create something so raw and compelling.

If we’re going to spend an hour-and-a-half feeling like we’re trapped in a box with this guy, he’d better be a damn good actor. And Ryan Reynolds is unbe-freaking-lievable. As if the claustrophobic atmosphere wasn’t enough, Reynold’s performance makes you feel as uncomfortable as he is–you feel his anger, his fear, his agitation, his anxiety, everything. He has to carry the entire movie all by himself, and he’s more than able to do so.

If you’re willing to spend the entire movie in his company (and I totally understand if you’re not–if you’re at all claustrophobic, this film is not for you), you will see just how good of an actor Ryan Reynolds can be.

The ending is as unforgiving as it is horrifying, but it’s also brutally effective at delivering one last bit of social commentary that will haunt me forever. I won’t give it away here.

One Response to “Looking Back at 2010s Films: Buried (2010)”


  1. Prepping for My Top 20 Films of the 2010s | Smith's Verdict - November 26, 2019

    […] “Leave No Trace,” “Room,” “Joker,” “Cop Car,” “Buried,” “Drive,” “Lean on Pete,” “Winter’s Bone,” […]

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